Going green at new hub and library in heart of York community

Solar panels and a wildflower roof are among green measures put in place at a new community hub and library in York, paving the way for a sustainable future.

Currently under construction, the £4.1 million Centre @ Burnholme in Heworth will be home to a new community hall, library, café, nursery and meeting spaces, as well as recording space for Tang Hall SMART, a community-led social enterprise which also works with disadvantaged groups across the wider York area.

The project includes around £35 million of public and private sector investment for the development of a health and wellbeing campus, benefiting residents of all ages.

Now, the green steps taken at the centre could generate 320,000kWh of electricity over the next 25 years, with a potential saving of £75,000.

Sewell Construction is completing the project on the former Burnholme Community College site on behalf of City of York Council which will open to the public later this year.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Environment at City of York Council: “This building will be an asset for the local community and an example of cost effective sustainable development. We are doing our bit to make York a One Planet City with buildings like this.

“The environmentally friendly measures at Burnholme will produce renewable energy to power the building, and the bio-roof will catch water to slow its flow into the drains, reducing the risk of surface water flooding.”

As well as adding to the appearance of the building, wildflower planting improves the ecological value of the site and is also beneficial to a range of insects, birds and small animals.

The photovoltaic (PV) solar panels use cells to convert sunlight into electricity. When light shines on the cell, an electric field is created across the layers causing the flow of electricity and a renewable energy source.

In addition, staff who use the site will be encouraged to cycle to work, with a covered cycle storage area, cycle access to the site and showers being put in place.

Josh Donnelly, Development Manager at Sewell Construction, said: “Working with City of York Council we looked past the initial construction phase and identified some long term, sustainable benefits for the centre.

“The roof and integrated solar panels will reduce ongoing energy costs, whilst bringing environmental benefits.

“Native tree and hedgerow species will be planted, grass and a low-growing native wildflower mix will be allowed to grow taller than a standard grassed area to encourage bees and butterflies, and bird and bat boxes will be installed.

“The Centre @ Burnholme will be a huge community asset and City of York Council’s investment in regeneration in the area is making a fantastic difference. We’re very proud to be involved.”

Steven Hewitt, a Director at Eco Environments Ltd, which installed the solar panels, said: “This exciting project will deliver a great place for the community to meet.

“The roof and integrated solar PV system will not only help reduce the energy costs but, more importantly, help reduce the CO2 emissions that the centre would otherwise produce.”

As well as the community and library building, the site will contain a new care home, health centre and affordable housing while also retaining sports and play facilities.